Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS

Boris Johnson public transport rules – Is it safe to travel?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NUMBER 10/CREATIVE COMMONS

Boris Johnson has announced that, as of 1 August, the government’s advice that anyone who is able should work from home will be relaxed.

From then, it will be at the employers’ discretion whether they allow people to continue working remotely or require them to come back into the office.

“Instead of government telling people to work from home, we’re going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely,” said the Prime Minister.

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It is anticipated that there will be a significant rise in people travelling using public transport from August 1. 

In fact, Boris Johnson said that, as of July 17, anyone can use public transport.

What does this mean for you? Here are some important questions answered.

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Can I use public transport now?

Since lockdown restrictions were introduced in late March, the government has urged the public to avoid public transport for all journeys deemed “non-essential”. That will now change.

Boris Johnson has made it clear that, as of 17 July, anyone can use public transport in England.

Are there rules in place on public transport?

Yes. From 15 June, it has been mandatory for all passengers to wear a face covering while travelling on public transport. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £100.

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There are few exemptions, including young children, disabled people, and those with breathing difficulties which could be made worse by wearing a face covering.

It is not yet known exactly how COVID-19 spreads from person to person, but the NHS is advising that similar viruses are spread in cough droplets when in close proximity. 

The NHS guidance on coronavirus defines “close contact” as being within 2 metres of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.

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Dr Lara Gosce, from the Institute of Global Health, says her 2018 research showed people who used the Underground regularly were more likely to suffer flu-like symptoms. Dr Gosce’s study says: “Comparing our results with influenza-like illnesses data collected by Public Health England in London boroughs, there’s a correlation between the use of public transport and the spread of influenza-like illnesses.

“Specifically, we show that passengers departing from boroughs with higher influenza-like illness rates have higher number of contacts when travelling on the underground. Compared to well-served boroughs where passengers reach their destination by one direct trip.”

What can I do on public transport to lower the risk?

The government has released guidance for lowering the risk of infection while travelling on public transport. The advice lists:

  • Travel at off-peak times
  • Use quieter stations and stops
  • Keep changes to a minimum
  • Walk for more of the journey 
  • Book tickets online in advance and/or pay by contactless payment

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt